Saturday, April 13, 2013

Loyola's Second Visit


            My wife and I flew in the day before the event, which was on a Friday. We planned to stay through the weekend to look around the area a bit and, if not find an apartment (unlikely, since we won’t actually move for a while yet), at least find a few areas we would feel at home in.

The next day, we drove to the school after grabbing some breakfast at our hotel. The day started with a check-in process that started at about 9:30 am or so. After parking in the parking garage (which was a reasonable $5 for the day), small herds of potential Loyola MS1s made their way into the medical school, where we lined up at a table and received a name tag and a packet like the one received on the interview day, except this one had a schedule for the day, the match list, housing information, and some informational sheets about the school. Immediately after walking in the door, before putting on my name tag, some random person walked up to me and said, “Oh, you must be eefen! Good to see you here.” The gesture, small as it was, was certainly appreciated and I think exemplifies how Loyola treats its students, even potential ones, as people rather than cogs in a machine.

After we had all checked in, we all (perhaps several hundred of us, including parents, significant others, siblings, etc.) gathered in the second floor atrium and made small talk until Dean Jones began the welcoming process, which was continued by about four others speakers, including the Dean of the medical school (the highlight was probably “Father Doctor” Muccino [a Jesuit priest], who compared the Second Visit to a Second “date” and then chuckled slyly, “Perhaps the reason I like this day so much is that it’s the closest I’ll ever get to actually dating”).

We were then divided into two large groups, depending on which half of the alphabet our last name fell into, and led into one of the large lecture halls (which, by the way, are quite large with comfy seats and abundant outlets). Several people then took turns speaking about a variety of subjects, including an overview of each year of medical school, research and global health opportunities, and financing medical school. I think perhaps the things that stood out the most during this series of mini-lectures was the apparent friendliness of each speaker and a passion for what they did, as well as a close collegiality among themselves.

After this, we had lunch. They basically converted the basketball court in the health and fitness center into large buffet – they laid out a false floor (tarp, essentially, but a floor nonetheless), set out a large number of tables, and prepared a large amount of food that was actually fairly good. Everyone was assigned to a table, and each table had at least one medical student present. There was an M1 at our table, and he was helpful in answering some final questions about the school and was generally a pleasure to talk to, as most people at Loyola seem to be.

Once lunch was finished, we all went back to the lecture halls, but this time we were separated into “future students” and family. Apparently, this was to allow students or family members to ask questions that perhaps they wouldn’t ask in front of each other. For each group, they had a panel of around five students or so at various stages of the process, as well as a number of administrative types, available to answer questions and share their perspective on the school. Here, I really felt like the students and faculty/administrative people really did a good job of communicating a concern for not just how well the student performs, but also for the emotional and spiritual health of the student. As cheesy as that might sound on paper, it actually appeared to be a legitimate concern, and as a probable future student, that is something I appreciated.

            This all went on till about 3 pm, after which the “formal” day was over. Everyone present then had the opportunity to either leave or gather back in the atrium for an “Ice Cream Social.” They had (rather speedily) set up a number of booths representing various departments and opportunities at the school. My wife and I actually did try and make the rounds, and everyone we talked to was very friendly and personable (not really a surprise at this point – I think Loyola only hires nice people...).

Around this time, those who wanted also had the opportunity to go on a tour, similar to the one on the interview day. They took use to many of the various rooms used for studying, testing, and generally hanging out in the medical school itself, as well as to the school of nursing, their library (which is bookless, by the way…it’s all online), the anatomy lab, and the simulation center.

This last bit was actually kind of interesting – they had a student there who introduced us to “Harvey” and told us a bit about what he was used for. He then suddenly started in on a scenario: “A 50 year old man presents to the ED complaining of crushing substernal chest pain radiating to his left chest accompanied by shortness of breath and diaphoresis.” He then pointed us to the rhythm monitor, which up to that point had been reading normal sinus rhythm but suddenly switched into v-tach, which eventually became v-fib. He asked if anyone knew what it was – a few members of the group mumbled it under their breath, until someone made a joke about only knowing because they watched Grey’s Anatomy. He laughed, and then talked about how the heart was no longer getting oxygen to the brain via the blood, and asked if we knew what to do next. Someone answered (“CPR!”) and was then asked to come perform it on Harvey. Someone else was asked to come start bagging him with a bag-valve mask. The student then talked about giving epinephrine, and after that didn’t work, had another student pretend to shock Harvey twice. Finally, the rhythm converted back into normal sinus, and the poor student who got stuck doing CPR could catch his breath.

Overall, the day was excellent. It was great to see the school again, and I’m really glad that my wife was able to see it as well. I will say that the tone of the day was different from the interview day. The latter was quite stressful, though Loyola didn’t make it overly so. Today, however, was much more celebratory in nature. It was as if they were saying, “You’re in. You’ve made it, and we’re glad you’re here. You’re one of us now, and we’ll get you through this. Welcome home.”

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